Archeologists examine one of the oldest hoards found in Europe

Nov 06, 2012
Belica hoard, two views of a stylized woman (serpentinite). Credit: Nebosja Boric, Belgrade

Jewelry and female figurines from Belica, Serbia, to be exhibited for the first time at Tübingen University Museum.

from the University of Tübingen's Institute of Prehistory are working with the Serbian Archeological Institute in Belgrade to analyze the most comprehensive Early Neolithic hoard ever found. Work on the nearly 8000 year old collection of jewelry and figurines is funded by the Thyssen Foundation.

The unique hoard is comprised of some 80 objects made of stone, clay and bone. "This collection from Belica, in all its completeness, provides a unique glimpse into the symbols of the earliest farmers and herdsmen in Europe," says Tübingen archeologist Dr. Raiko Krauss, who heads the German side of the project.

Belica hoard, two views of a representation of the sickle moon (serpentinite). Credit: Nebosja Boric, Belgrade

The objects include stylized female figures, parts of the human body, as well as miniature and abstract figures. Much attention has been given to the rotund female figures of water-smoothed stone given human features by human hands. Were they idols, or fertility symbols? Their purpose is unknown.

The stone objects are mainly of serpentinite from an ophiolite belt running some 40km west of the Belica site. The rock was washed out of the mountains and worn smooth by rivers and streams. Neolithic artists then selected the pebbles they wanted from the valleys.

Archeologists mapped the outline of an Early Neolithic settlement in June of this year using the distribution of finds on the surface as a guide. In the middle, they found the largely undisturbed hoard. Using modern geophysical prospection methods, they were able to bring buried parts of the set-tlement to light during summer excavations.

"Important finds like this should be prominently displayed in the Serbian National Museum," says Krauss of the hoard. "But the National Museum in Belgrade has been closed since the civil war." So Krauss is working with his Serbian colleagues on an exhibition at the University of Tübingen Museum in Hohentübingen Castle. The modern world will first get to see the Belica hoard there in the winter semester of 2013/14. The hoard, and the results of the current investigation, are to be published in German and Serbian.

Explore further: 110-million-year-old crustacean holds essential piece to evolutionary puzzle

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Israeli archeologists find rare stone age figures

Aug 29, 2012

(AP)—Israel's Antiquities Authority says archeologists have unearthed two 9,500-year-old figurines near Jerusalem that help shed light on religion and society during the stone age.

Skilled hunters 300,000 years ago

Sep 17, 2012

Finds from early stone age site in north-central Germany show that human ingenuity is nothing new – and was probably shared by now-extinct species of humans.

Archaeologists rewrite history of the Trefael Stone

Apr 13, 2012

The Trefael Stone, a scheduled ancient monument in south-west Wales originally thought to be an ancient standing stone is actually the capstone of a 5,500-year-old tomb, according to new research from an archaeologist ...

Recommended for you

Fish eye sheds light on color vision

Dec 23, 2014

A fish eye from a primitive time when Earth was but one single continent, has yielded evidence of color vision dating back at least 300 million years, researchers said Tuesday.

Study sheds new light on the diet of extinct animals

Dec 22, 2014

A study of tooth enamel in mammals living today in the equatorial forest of Gabon could ultimately shed light on the diet of long extinct animals, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Nov 06, 2012
Those are beautiful, and will qualify as Fine Art even by modern standards.

It is clear that the artists were members of a tradition that had obtained to a highly refined technique and aesthetic development.

Even so long ago and working in a medium as unforgiving as stone -just look at the balance, proportion, and stylization of the objects.

Fantastic.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.